To Help Or Not

Sunday, September 29, 2019
Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "Lo He Comes With Clouds Descending"1 (Lyrics)

Hebrews 13:2 – Don't forget to show hospitality to strangers, for some who have done this have entertained angels without realizing it! (NLT)

To help or not to help, that was the question.

He stood at a busy intersection, holding a sign that we couldn't read. Although the town where we live is modest in size, recently we've seen more homeless and indigent people standing on corners in and around our local restaurants and retailers.

As we pulled from one parking lot after our meal, my wife and I strained our necks but couldn't read his sign. After visiting the pharmacy to pick up medicine, we passed the man again on our way home.

"I'm gonna circle around to see what the sign says," my wife remarked.

I was glad. Of late, we've been paying it forward. Perhaps, this was another opportunity. We neared the gentleman, but noticed that he didn't look like other people that we'd seen requesting help.

The man's sign read, "Trying desperately to help my family. Waiting on my disability check." He didn't appear disabled, but then again, many who are don't. We pulled to the stop sign next to him. My wife said nothing.

"What do you think?" I finally asked.

"I don't feel the tug," she said. And we drove on.

God places opportunities in our path on a regular basis — more if we'll ask Him, too. But we can't take advantage of every good opportunity, nor does God expect us to. I'm not a wealthy man. Even Jesus, with all of heaven's riches at His disposal, didn't heal every sickness or meet the needs of every person who wanted His help. There were times when He left the crowds to pray to His heavenly Father or to move to another region.

Knowing which helping opportunity God wants us to take advantage of takes prayer. This helps us to look and listen with spiritual eyes and ears. We must ask God to send the opportunities, but we must also ask Him to let us see them. Busyness and selfishness cause us to miss them.

The tug that my wife mentioned is what we refer to as God's Spirit. We both feel it when it's an opportunity that God wants us to take. It's an overwhelming pressure to intervene — a feeling of guilt when we let the opportunity slip by.

Let's ask God to show us the situations in which He wants us to intervene. We can't do it all, but we can do something.

Prayer: Father, guide us to those people and situations where You want us to help. Amen.

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About the author:

Martin Wiles <>
Greenwood, South Carolina, USA

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1 Comment

  • PresbyCan Feedback says:

    Amen, Martin. Sometimes “helping” actually causes hurt. Blessings.

    Thanks, Martin, for the encouragement to help others and explaining how you do it.

    Amen Martin. It is a challenge indeed at times knowing when and when not to help.

    Yes, Martin, the ‘tug’ is familiar. Yet I am also aware that, ‘feelings are not facts,’ so I too keep looking for some outward evidence of the truth, knowing that, ‘Can I help?’ always goes along with ‘Should I?’ Well said. Thank you.

    Dear Martin Wiles,
    I pray that you will mainly help people who are spreading the words of our Lord.
    And to pray that you will give God’s word with physical help. People in need often need both together.
    For Jesus’ sake.

    This was a remarkable devotional and saves a lot of guilt for sure. Amazing where you shared about Jesus not healing everyone etc. I never realized that or put it in that context before but sure opens our eyes when we do.
    Thank you for saving me some guilt feelings at times.
    God bless.

    I find this very helpful and I have not heard this discussed in this manner before.
    Great n sight. Perhaps the help has been assigned to someone else.
    One of the things I struggle with sometimes is when helping also potentially has some benefit to me.
    I acknowledge this,
    Give this to the Lord and try to get direction.
    Usually it come out that I would and should, help anyway.
    Thank you.

    Hello Martin,
    Thanks for writing about this situation. We have the same situation here with more and more panhandlers setting up in the community. it is a sad thing to see and hard to know just how much to do for them not knowing exactly how needy they are or if by giving them money that it might just be used for their addiction. Lord’s guidance is so needed along with prayers for each situation.
    Blessings to you for your meaningful devotionals.

    Thank you for the devotional featuring the change and the constant. We praise God that he is unchanging.
    Keep writing.

    Excellent reminder that we cannot truly know what to do apart from the ability to recognize the Spirit’s prompts. Otherwise we rely on our own powers of reasoning – and it will always fall short!

    Well your message hit home. I do feel a tug once in a while, and if I ignore it, I feel less than happy. Your words hit home and I will work harder to listen to those tugs and action them more.
    Thanks for sharing your in-sights.

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